Maybe it’s the powerful mixture of following the news in the last year and recently having a daughter of my own, but I have come to the conclusion that the topic of female empowerment is more important than it has ever been before. It’s relevant to any industry. To any race, any country, any age group. Sadly, almost all of us have probably been in some kind of unfair or uncomfortable situation – whether it’s a comment in the work place, something happening at school, or maybe just living our daily lives. Whether it’s witnessing or being a victim of inappropriate behavior, or having someone tell us our dreams are much too big, we as women are constantly faced with cultural obstacles that sometimes seem impossible to leap over.
I’ll never forget shooting a hair commercial, when the stylist – on camera – totally belittled me. Looking in the mirror at how he’d done my hair, I said, ‘I feel powerful. I feel like I could walk into a boardroom with my pitch and nail the meeting.’ He paused, laughed, and said, ‘As if you’ve ever been in a boardroom!’ The cameras rolled and my mouth went dry. I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard. There haven’t been many moments in my career when I was genuinely lost for words, but this was one. I could feel my face blushing, and I hoped the makeup on my skin was masking it. I carried on the rest of filming, not wanting to be unprofessional – even though inside I felt like telling him what a prize twat he was. I waited until we broke for lunch, and then told his boss exactly how I felt. She was female, and had heard it too. She was furious with him, but nobody actually said anything to him – which was a shame. But I will say, there was a silver lining. The male director sent me an email that very night, saying how disgusted and disappointed he was at the incident. He told me his mother was a feminist, and he was raised to be a feminist himself. He was more angry about it than me! So in a way, the balance was redressed a little, by his views and kindness.
Back to the now: It’s easy to look back at the last year or so and feel sad, disappointed, or just plain pissed off when it comes to how women were treated. However, I think it’s important that we take a step back and recognize all that we have accomplished in light of what has happened to us. The Women’s March held all over the United States became the largest single day protest in US history; women in film and media reached new heights and were recognized for their work (think the female director and cast members of Wonder Woman, and the bad ass ladies who created Big Little Lies), and Time named the women who so bravely spoke out about sexual assault as its ‘people of the year’.
But behind every strong woman is – a pack of women just as strong ready to support, encourage and back her up when she needs it. I have been lucky enough to find a tribe of women who I learn from, look up to, and have fun with in just about every aspect of my life. I have friends near and far who all mean so much to me, and never fail to pick me up when I am down. Working in media and entertainment in Los Angeles can be difficult for women, and not just in the horrendous, sexually abusive ways that have been spoken to so bravely recently. The idea of competition can get the best of you. One serious issue that women face is thought of “your success is my failure”. That if another woman booked the job, nailed the meeting, or aced the test, it means that you failed to do so. Women often have to work harder than men to be presented with the same opportunities (hello wage gap), and we have no choice but to stick together to change that. But I’ve really noticed a shift in the blogger community, with my peers cheering each other on – whether it’s advice, creating groups of Mums or entrepreneurs who regularly meet up, helping support each other’s product launches and products. It feels good! And I’m very proud of my girls! Support your sisters when they achieve their goals, and let it inspire you to achieve your own.
In the age of social media and curated content, it is easy for us to forget that at the end of the day, we are all human. We are all women, unique, strong, important in our own right. I challenge you all to focus closely on the ways in which we interact with one another, and aim to inspire those around you with hard work, kindness, and being unapologetically you. One of my favorite moments in pop culture happened last year at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Adele won album of the year and dedicated it to Beyonce (she literally broke the Grammy – remember that?!), a woman who she believed deserved it just as much, if not more. During her acceptance speech she called Beyonce’s album “monumental and soul baring”, and describing it as the “album of her life”. Not that I didn’t look up to these inspiring women before, but this moment of respect, friendship, and solidarity is a great example of what empowerment and support truly means. Another huge moment for women came during the recent Royal wedding. The new Duchess of Sussex broke with Royal (and British) tradition, to give a speech at the reception, where apparently, she talked about being a feminist. As a Brit, that’s a big deal – hardly any brides give speeches at their weddings let alone in front of the whole world. Oh and I can’t finish this missive without mentioning one of my favorite role models, Amal Clooney. The media jokes about her stealing her husband’s spotlight, and for good reason. For many years, I struggled with the kinds of ‘role models’ young girls were presented with these days. Finally a woman with an enormous brain, who fights for justice around the world, isn’t afraid to risk her own personal safety doing it, and she still loves fashion and is clearly having fun with it? That’s a package deal if ever I saw one.
Not all female role models are famous – far from it. I actually loved the General Electric ad, asking what if we treated female scientists like the celebrities we obsess over on social media? It features the late Millie Dresselhaus, who died last year aged 86, the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering. When Honor was born, one of my dearest friends Tom brought her a book entitled Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (it’s here, along with other girl power kids titles). The book features 100 short stories about strong women in different cultures and times, and I thought it was the coolest gift. I’ve since bought it for my God-daughter, and discovered this ‘Role Models’ section of ‘A Mighty Girl’ book store online. For any mums, dads, aunties, and uncles out there – check it out for the little girls in your life! I hope to share these powerful, inspiring messages with Honor in all aspects of her life, teaching her not only to chase her dreams but to help others follow theirs, and to learn and read about as many powerful women in history too.
To me, girl power ultimately means surrounding yourself with other women who uplift you, and doing the same for them. Girl power means defending each other, not participating in gossip or bullying, however easy it may feel in the moment. It means not only praising each other’s accomplishments, but helping each other in any way we can – whether it’s connecting someone to the right person for an interview, bringing someone along to a networking event, or even setting someone up on a blind date… There is enough success and happiness to go around. If you have the opportunity to help another woman, do it! Even if there is no obvious benefit to you. If one of us rises, we all rise. What are some ways that you guys think we can help and support each other? Tell me below!